One vital thing to consider when planning a Lands End to John O’Groats ride is where are you going to stay? The UK is awash with hotels, guest houses, rooms and campsites but your final decision may hinge on one main factor, budget.
Staying in a hotel every night will offer a comfortable place to stay but will be costly. Booking a campsite or wild camping is a far cheaper option but this increases the amount of weight and equipment needed. Both options have benefits, but which will you choose?
I chose to either pre book accommodation or book a place to stay on the day depending on where I was up to on the way. The decision to have a degree of flexibility on my LEJOG ride and this worked very well. Camping was an option but the thought of having to put up and take down a tent each day did not appeal on my 3 week journey
My four go-to websites to book accommodation for my journey.
These websites gave me plenty of options each day and my philosophy was to book the cheapest option possible. While I did have a dry bed to stay in each night, booking the cheapest option will not always give you quality.
Where did I stay each Night on My LEJOG Cycle Ride
Here is a run down of the accommodation I booked and where I stayed on my 21-day ride. I booked a lot of these places on the day which overall worked well with a couple of hairy moments in York, Edinburgh and Inverness.
Penzance – My first night was an AirBnb situated close to the centre of Penzance, it was a basement room that had everything that I needed. Total cost £58.47p
Bodmin – I pre booked an AirBnb which was a mile from the center of Bodmin. This was a self contained annex that had everything I needed. A washing machine, TV, secure bike parking, and great shower. The cost of this was £64.31.
Oakhampton – Single room with shared bathroom at the Betty Cottles Inn which is close to the Granite Way and around 1 mile from the centre of Oakhampton. Total cost £35. A very large pub/inn that is way past its heyday, however a good cheap place to stay.
Taunton – A room awaiting me in Taunton hosted by an experienced AirBnb host. Staying in someone’s house was new to me and at first a strange experience. Situated very close to the centre of Taunton and with excellent facilities, it was a very good night’s sleep. Total cost £44.43.
Webbington – Using Booking.com I booked the Webbington Hotel & Spa, while this sounds extravagant, it was my birthday. £58.95p for bed and buffet breakfast as well as use of the pool, sauna and steam room was well worth the money.
Bath – Stayed with family
Gloucester – The cheapest option for me was the Station Hotel booked via Booking.com. On arrival, I could see why it was the cheapest option and it was not particularly cheap. £59.98 for bed and breakfast, probably the worst place I stayed on my ride.
Stratford Upon Avon – I found the Moonraker Guest House on Booking.com, I called ahead to check on bike parking and booked direct. This was an excellent guest house close to the centre. £60 for bed and breakfast I thought was very good value for money in what is a popular tourist destination.
Loughborough – Travelodge was my cheapest option here, at £39 for the night in a place situated in the centre offered excellent value for money. Bikes can be taken into your room.
Gainsborough – The town centre Travel Lodge was my destination, a special evening as I was joined by my family for the night.
York – York Youth Hostel was my destination, being a Saturday night York was so expensive however the Hostel provided me with a place to stay. The total cost was £40 for a bed in a shared dormitory, a new experience for me but very good value for money in the tourist trap that is York. I was able to do my laundry and the breakfast was excellent (breakfast £10)
Middlesbrough – Good old Travelodge at a total cost of £39 was my bed for the night, again a very comfortable stay in the centre of town.
Newbiggin by the Sea – A room via Airbnb at a total cost of £49.12. Michelle was my host for the evening, a brilliant host in a wonderful house very close to the beach and centre.
Eyemouth – I made the mistake of going to Eyemouth, it is not easy to get to by bike however a night in the Home Arms Guesthouse was brilliant. £54 for bed and full breakfast.
Edinburgh – I struggled to find a place in Edinburgh, prices had rocketed due to rail strikes however Booking.com came up trumps. £36.20p got me a Pod in a mixed dormitory at the CoDE Pod – The CoURT. A great location on the Royal Mile and in a unique old prison! The individual pods have USB plugs, a locker, comfortable beds and a privacy curtain. The Hostel itself has excellent showers, laundry facilities and a great breakfast. Cycle parking is an issue but I have to say that they did let me leave my bike in the left luggage room due to incorrect info on Booking.com.
Perth – The Auld Manse Guest House was my destination, situated a short walk from the city centre, it was a great place to stay for £50 which included a full breakfast.
Dalwhinnie – A night at the Old School Hostel booked via Airbnb for a cost of £63.14. I do recommend this place. Lee the owner is a great host. The Lodge is a bar and eatery only a short walk away with a great meal option and a good selection of drinks.
Inverness – Dunskaith Villa was my eventual destination, I prebooked a place via HostelWorld to find there was no place for me. A last-minute look at Booking.com at 5pm found me a room at Dunskaith Villa. Nice place for £60 on what was a very busy Saturday night in Inverness.
Tain – Airbnb got me a wonderful room at Blackwatch House hosted my Audrey. Audrey was an excellent host, the room was massive with en suite. She provided breakfast and a secure place to park my bike. Total cost £54.97.
The Crask Inn – 3 Course Dinner, Bed and Full Breakfast for £75, what is there not to like about the Crask Inn. A remote place to stay offering home-cooked food and a great selection of drinks.
Melvich – Sunnybank was my destination, booked via Airbnb. This was by far the most expensive place I booked but places are limited on the North Coast. The place was excellent but at a cost of £87.71p for one night was expensive.
Northlink Ferry – The final night of my three week adventure was spent aboard the MV Hjaltland, the Northlink Ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen. I booked a sleeping pod for this journey and it cost me a total of £52 all in.
The total cost of accommodation for 21 nights came to a total of £1068.31p
An average nightly cost of £50.87p
This included eight breakfasts and one evening meal
Camping versus Booked Accommodation Riding LEJOG
In my opinion, the beds that I booked offered excellent value for money. I considered camping and did price the equipment needed to do this. When riding solo and camping it is important to choose lightweight equipment that does not come cheap. I worked out the following basic costs when I considered camping.
Lightweight Tent – £139 (Decathlon Sports)
Lightweight Air Mattress – £40 (Decathlon Sports)
Low Weight Sleeping Bag – £50 (Decathlon Sports)
Campsite Per night – Min £20 (total £420)
Time Saving – 1.5 to 2 hours per day (priceless)
Total Cost £649
This cost does not include any other items. Based on this with added benefits of booked accommodation such as hot showers, laundry, some breakfasts, and a warm place to stay on a rainy day I have to say booked accommodation wins hands down..